There was a mood of confidence and anticipation as a new left-wing political party was launched in Wrexham on November 8. The local RMT rail-workers’ union secretary Dave Bithell told members:
We’ve beaten Labour once and we’ve got to move forward to beat Labour again and again.
The combination of a radical socialist message coupled with the credible, common-sense approach typified by the party’s Assembly Member, John Marek, was evident throughout the day.
The new party name Forward Wales/Cymru Ymlaen was adopted along with aims and principles committing it to building a sustainable socialist society.
John Marek himself described the day as a
new dawn for Wales and stressed the party would be different from others. He said Wales had always been a radical country and Forward Wales would reach out to urban and rural areas, Welsh speaking and non-Welsh speaking. Strong representation from trade unionists, a feature of Marek’s election campaign to win his seat in the Assembly back in May, ensured vocal support from representatives of the fire-fighters, PCS civil servants, the RMT and the GMB. Dave Bithell himself was elected as trade union organiser for the new party and re-iterated the RMT ’s support for the new party.
The party will now seek to build branches in every constituency in Wales in readiness for next year’s (2004) European and council elections.
The party already has advanced plans to contest elections in its Wrexham stronghold but there are likely to be candidates standing under the Forward Wales banner throughout the country.
But the party’s priority is to campaign in communities and workplaces, such as the ongoing Wrexham Against Stock Transfer campaign activists initiated in September. The campaign has succeeded in bringing together tenants and council workers after more than a dozen meetings around estates facing sell. The new party will aim to link up the various local campaigns against stock transfer in Wales into a national campaign. Forward Wales’s constitution ensures that its elected representatives, like the Scottish Socialist Party, receive an average skilled workers’ income and the party will be looking to cement links already made with the SSP in the coming months. It will also be building international links in readiness for the European elections next June.
Seren Issue 11 Jan. 2004